Private schoolboy who attacked two sleeping students and teacher with hammers found guilty of attempted murder

​Blundell's in Devon (file pic)
Blundell's in Devon (file pic)
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 21/06/2024

- 15:04

Updated: 21/06/2024

- 15:52

The boy said he kept two hammers by his bed 'for protection' from the 'zombie apocalypse'

A teenager who said he was sleepwalking when he attacked two students and a teacher with hammers has been found guilty of attempted murder.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was dressed only in his boxer shorts when he repeatedly hit his dorm-mates at Blundell's School in Tiverton, Devon, in June last year.

Both boys who were injured in the attack suffered skull fractures, as well as injuries to their ribs, spleen, a punctured lung and internal bleeding.

Exeter Crown Court heard how maths teacher Henry Roffe-Silvester was asleep in his own quarters when he was awoken by noises coming from the boarding house and went to investigate.

\u200bBlundell's in Devon (file pic)

Blundell's in Devon (file pic)


Roffe-Silvester told a jury he saw a silhouetted figure standing in front of him in the room who then turned and repeatedly hit him over the head with a hammer.

He said: "Physically I stumbled backwards into the corridor. There was a second blow - I can't remember if it was before I stumbled back - that's a little bit hazy for me."

The defendant maintained he was sleepwalking at the time of the attacks – meaning he would be not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity. The jury found the defendant guilty of three counts of attempted murder after 40 hours of deliberation.

Trial judge Mrs Justice Cutts said she would adjourn sentencing for the preparation of pre-sentence reports, including a psychiatric report, and would pass sentence on October 18.

Exeter Crown Court in Exeter, Devon

Exeter Crown Court in Exeter, Devon


She said: "I don’t intend to sentence today, further reports are needed. I would wish a psychiatric report. That needs to be a court-ordered report.

"I can say that inquiries have been made to find somebody who would be able to write a report. It has not been straightforward because of the defendant’s age."

During the trial, James Dawes KC, prosecuting, told jurors: "The investigation has uncovered an obsession that the defendant had with one of the boys, an obsession with hammers as weapons, and an obsession with killing and killers and the killing of children.

"He had motive, that he had planned something like this, thought about it in advance, and he was awake. He was using his iPad right up to the moment before the attack."

Giving evidence, the boy, who was 16 at the time of the attack, told jurors he remembered going to sleep before the attack and then seeing the dormitory covered in blood.

He told the court: "I knew something really bad had gone on and everyone was looking towards me. I didn’t remember doing anything so the only rational thing I was thinking was that I was sleepwalking."

He said he kept two hammers by his bed "for protection" from the "zombie apocalypse".

The boy added: "I feel very terribly sorry for all three individuals because of what I did to them. I feel very sorry for everyone, the families and themselves."

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Dave Egan said: "We welcome today’s verdict. This was an unprovoked attack on two schoolboys as they slept in their beds. The assaults were both brutal and savage and I believe that his intent was to kill.

"Our detectives worked tirelessly to prove that the offender had indeed been fully conscious when committing this horrendous attack - which had been pre-planned.

"I want to thank the victims and their families for their continuous support throughout this trial and to the fellow pupils and paramedics who were present on the night of the attack and offered life-saving assistance to the casualties.

"I would like to extend my thanks to the investigation and prosecution teams for their dedication to this case which has led to a guilty verdict today.

"We now await the sentencing outcome which will take place on 18 October 2024."

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